Best Diesel Fuel Additives: Improve Your Fuel Economy and Engine Performance
Maximize your fuel efficiency and save money with these top diesel fuel additives.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON October 13, 2021
Do you know what’s happening to your vehicle’s diesel fuel? If you’re anything like most drivers, you only pay close attention to your fuel when you’re in need of a fill up — or if you notice there’s a problem within the engine, fuel delivery system, or other parts under the hood. However, when you own a diesel car, truck, or SUV, it’s always a good idea to keep your fuel in mind. Many diesel vehicles can benefit from a diesel fuel additive, an extra ingredient that can offer better engine performance, protection for your fuel, and increased stability.
Diesel fuel additives can offer a number of advantages. Incorporating an additive into your fuel tank can help lubricity, improve your vehicle’s cold weather performance, and even make your fuel more stable. Additives can enhance and protect, smooth and properly fuel, all for a relatively minimal cost. If you think your car could benefit from an additive, we’ve got the products and the information you need. Check out which products we’re calling the best diesel fuel additives around.
This is a highly-rated diesel fuel treatment coming from reliable Hot Shot's Secret. It cleans and protects the engine and improves its overall performance. Comes in a 32-ounce bottle.
- Safe yet powerful formula for long-term use
- Cleans injector tips, cylinders, fuel lines, and tank
- Boosts cetane up to 7 points
- Promotes quick starts and increases mileage
- Eliminates smoke and excess water
- Awkward bottle design might cause leaks and messes
- Might color hands in black
- Has a strong odor
An anti-gel diesel fuel additive that lowers the cold filter plug by 20 degrees. The product is packaged in a 32-ounce bottle.
- Improves the cetane rating and overall performance of your engine
- Can be mixed with all types of diesel fuel
- Contains anti-water removal and cold weather protection formula
- Not very effective when it comes to cleaning the fuel system
A diesel fuel additive that contains no solvent and can function as a fuel injector cleaner or a lubricant. The product can treat both diesel and gasoline engines.
- Enhances engine performance and increases the lifespan of your engine
- Boosts the cetane rating and lowers the number of sulfur contaminants
- Not ideal for large trucks fitted with extensive fuel system and multiple engine parts
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Why Buy Diesel Fuel Additives?
- Improved engine performance. Using a diesel fuel additive can help your engine run more smoothly and more efficiently, preventing — and potentially improving — imperfections and problems. An additive helps the temperature and the velocity at which diesel fuel burns, which can benefit your engine. With an additive, you’ll see a higher power capacity and increased efficiency.
- Less wear and tear. In order to keep your vehicle well-maintained and on the road for a long time, you need to protect its components and systems, keeping them in good shape over many miles. A diesel fuel additive can help with this, as it will limit the amount of wear and tear on your engine, fuel system, and other parts. An additive increases lubrication and prevents corrosion thanks to special ingredients, which makes problems that appear as the result of wear and tear less likely.
- Less frequent maintenance. Because an additive can reduce wear and tear on your car, you may notice that you need less frequent maintenance. You may not need to spend as much money or as much time maintaining various parts of your vehicle.
- Reduced emissions. Emissions are a problem, especially if your car is one that creates a ton of exhaust emissions while it’s running. Whether you’re interested in benefiting the environment or need to meet local emissions standards, a diesel fuel additive can help. With an additive in the mix, your improved engine performance can lead to less carbon dioxide exhaust emissions. And, if your additive removes any buildup in your fuel system, this can also cut down on emissions.
- Better fuel efficiency. A diesel fuel additive actually works to reduce your car’s fuel consumption. That means you won’t have to refuel as often — which means you’ll save money over time. With improved engine performance, you may also find that your vehicle is using fuel in more efficient ways, another factor that can lower consumption (and your costs).
- All-weather performance. When temperatures drop in the winter, diesel fuel can begin to change. Cold temperatures cause diesel to start crystalizing, which makes the fuel turn waxy. And this can ultimately cause damage to your engine and other components — or prevent you from driving altogether. An additive can prevent these problems, keeping diesel stable at any temperature regardless of the season.
Types of Diesel Fuel Additives
It’s quite normal for the quality of diesel to diminish over time, after the refinement and storage process. It could be either oxidation or degradation that causes the diesel to lose its touch. Whatever it is, fuel stabilizers are purposely designed to maintain the quality of your diesel and prevent oxidation, degradation, or breakdown.
These types of diesel fuel additives are responsible for improving fuel combustion and reducing the ignition delay time. The higher the cetane boost, the better the diesel engine efficiency. Apart from improving the engine performance, cetane boosters cut off smoke emissions, deposits, and slow down the fuel consumption without compromising the quality.
Fuel Injector Detergents
Like every other organic substance, diesel can accumulate bacteria, molds, yields, or other deposits. However, fuel injector detergents can clean any wanted dirt that is blocking your vehicle's injector nozzle. Also, such detergents can also clean other engine parts that are exposed to diesel. Afterward, you can expect the acceleration and hard start to improve.
Even though the water found in diesel is useful for condensation and stabilizing fuel temperature, the dissolved salt can cause crystallization, which eventually leads to rust and corrosions. Nevertheless, corrosion inhibitors serve a purpose to intercept the crystallized salt and prevent rust or corrosion. Typically, corrosion inhibitors contain metal or alloy chemical compounds.
If you're living in extremely cold areas, the diesel fuel filter can get blocked due to accumulated wax or gel formation in the diesel. Anti-gel additives are made to prevent the viscous effect in diesel during cold weather and improve cold-starting performance. Additionally, anti-gel additives can also unblock diesel fuel filters.
Lucas Oil is one of the most popular automobile lubricants and fuel additives manufacturers in North America. The company, which was founded in 1989 and eventually grew to become a multi-million dollar company, is headquartered in California. Its highest selling diesel fuel treatment product is the Lucas 10013 Fuel Treatment.
Founded more than a century ago in 1876, Stanadyne is a company with a long history of inventing groundbreaking products. At the moment, Stanadyne specializes in manufacturing gasoline and diesel fuel systems. Also, it's one of the leading brands of fuel additives. Its top-rated item is the Stanadyne Performance Formula.
After starting out in 1920 as a company that manufactures lubricants, Howes expanded to become one of the best diesel fuel additives brands. The company’s headquarters is in North Kingston, R.I. One of its most used fuel additives for diesel trucks is the Howes Diesel Treat.
- Under $15: An average-sized bottle of diesel fuel additive won’t cost you much. Most additives are priced at $15 or less, with many falling right around the $10 price point. You may even find cheaper options if you shop at big box retailers.
- $15 to $25: Step up to this price range, and you can get the very same diesel fuel additives from the $15 or less price range in larger sizes. You’ll also find more specialty blends or additives with specific purposes.
- $25 to $50: This price range includes a slimmer selection of products and choices. You’ll typically find bulk products for $25 and up, but it also includes some uniquely specialized additives and extra-pricey premium options.
The best diesel fuel engine cleaner should contain no alcohol. The logic behind it is simple; alcohol can damage vital engine parts such as O-rings and seals. Not to mention, it can destabilize compression. Instead, it is better to choose diesel fuel additives with detergents which will unlikely cause any harm compared to alcohol solvent formula.
A top-quality diesel fuel additive product should reduce fuel emissions and comply with environmental regulations. That means that the chemicals used to manufacture the formula ought to minimize the effect on the environment. Always ensure that you read the label carefully and check out if the product is EPA-approved.
Before you buy diesel fuel additive, it's critical that you examine if it can remove water through dispersants or emulsifiers. Of course, diesel contains a small percentage of water properties, but if the water is not removed, it can cause a lot of trouble during winter, plus corrosion, and microbial contamination problems.
Because diesel fuel can thicken over time — and in the presence of cold temperatures — having an additive with anticoagulant properties is critically important. Anticoagulant properties stop the fuel from thickening into an immovable, unusable sludge. It’ll keep your fuel moving smoothly and easily through your fuel system and engine. And it’ll also maintain the condition and formulation of your fuel so your car always starts without any issue.
In addition to keeping your fuel at just the right consistency, you want an additive that keeps it well-lubricated. In recent years, emissions regulations and changes have led to significant reductions in the amount of sulfur that’s included in diesel. Sulfur was a great lubricant — and as a result, your diesel fuel is no longer as smooth-flowing as it once was. So, you’ll want to make sure to look for an additive that can restore some of that lost lubricity. It’ll keep your engine running smoothly and your fuel flowing without issue.
- Type of Diesel Fuel Additive. There is no all-in-one diesel additive formula available in the market. However, there are diesel treatment products with dual or multi-functionality. Before you make a purchase, it’s important to know what specific type of diesel fuel additive you prefer. For instance, if you’re into racing, it would make sense to search for the additive that is utilized for racing cars.
- Versatility. While many diesel fuel additives are specialized and meant for targeting one or two purposes, you can find products that are more widely versatile. For example, a lubricating additive can help everything from engine performance to fuel efficiency; it might even be better equipped for cold weather use. The more applications an additive offers, the more value you’ll get out of it.
- Engine Compatibility. Just like how diesel fuel additives are designed for different functionality, there are additives that are only compatible with specific diesel engines. The best fuel additives for diesel trucks should be compatible with most types of diesel engines and fuel systems. Alternatively, there are fuel additives that can be used for general use.
- Treatment Convenience. Depending on the type of product, you can either top up after every refuel or every once in a while. Even though you’re unlikely to forget after every refueling interval, it can be costly in the long run. On the other hand, diesel fuel additives that only need to be used after a longer duration are cheaper but easier to forget the schedule. Regardless, you should choose whichever works out for you.
Best Diesel Fuel Additives Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Tips & Advice
- Always follow the prescribed dosage when adding diesel fuel additive. Keep in mind that if you add excess diesel additive treatment, you may cause poor filterability and even cause a blockage.
- Rather than mixing and blending additive with diesel fuel and adding the mixture into the tank, it would be easier and more convenient to inject the diesel fuel additive into the fuel tank when refilling.
- There are certain mixing and blending equipment that you can purchase to avoid insufficient mixing especially if you’re driving heavy trucks. For instance, you could use a fuel injector quill or a static mixer to improve the mixing chemistry.
- If you’re adding a diesel fuel additive to prevent crystallization during winter, you must add the additive before the fuel is below cloud point. Otherwise, if you add the additive after the fuel crystalizes, it won’t do much to help the situation.
- For those who are living in regions where temperatures fluctuate rapidly, it is better to seek out additives with very dilute formula. Also, an all-season diesel treatment could be your best option.
Q: Does using diesel fuel additive make my brand new vehicle’s warranty invalid?
No. According to the USA Federal Warranty Act, a vehicle manufacturer is prohibited from invalidating a warranty just because you used a fuel additive.
Q: What is cetane rating on diesel fuel?
The cetane rating is a measurement used to determine the tendency of a specific batch of diesel to ignite or burn. Basically, if the cetane rating is improved, so will the overall engine performance.
Q: Do diesel fuel additives really work?
Fuel additives prevent your fuel system from wearing down and can prevent an increase in fuel consumption caused by fouled components.
Q: What is the cleanest diesel fuel?
The cleanest diesel fuels contain 97-percent less sulfur, and they reduce soot emissions by 10 percent.
Q: Can fuel additives damage your engine?
Fuel additives aren't damaging as long as you follow the instructions and use them as directed.
Q: How do you rejuvenate old diesel fuel?
To recondition old diesel fuel you can use PRI-D Diesel Fuel Treatment. It's designed to restore degraded fuel.
Q: When should I use diesel fuel additives?
If you want to prevent injector damage caused by water and deposits, fuel additives can help. Fuel additives also dissolve the asphaltenes that are responsible for fuel filter plugging.
Our top pick for the best diesel fuel additive is Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Extreme. The product can be used on any diesel engine, and it can enhance the overall performance of your engine.
However, if you’re looking for a cheaper option, consider the Howes Diesel Treat.